Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Using a PDA to organize homemaking

This is very domestic, but it's what I've been working on lately. I actually wrote this in 2003.

So far I've found one product that meets some of my needs -- that's HandyShopper, which works great for shopping lists and other lists. So far I've used it for a packing list, a running wish list (with categories like bedroom, kitchen, and people's names) and a list of books to buy or borrow. For those applications the ability to store prices is useful. In my opinion hs is good for lists that you want to categorize, and keep prices for. And it's fabulous for shopping lists. I imagine that other shopping list apps are comparable.

I haven't yet found a way that I'm happy with to keep track of housework. I'd like an application that reminded me of daily, weekly,monthly, one-time, and occasional tasks, and allows me to choose whether to record the date the task was completed. For instance I don't need to know when I did morning dishes, but I might want to know I flipped the mattress (and which way it was flipped, too). I'm experimenting with Redo, and somewhere I saw a reference to an application that puts completed todo items into datebook, but I can't remember what it was. It's entirely possible that Datebk5 has this and I'm missing it.

Another thing I'd like to do is menu planning. I'm a little rough on my planning, but it works for me. I plan meals without firm days, so at the very least I'd like an application where it's easy to change the date for a meal. I'd really like to be able to store lists of dishes and apply them to days. Ideally, I would also keep easily updateable lists of meals in the freezer --and as long as we're at it, why not a total freezer inventory.

Another thing I'd like to be able to do is review our finances on my PDA. At $40 Pocket Quicken is a bit steep, but the ability to sync with Quicken is undeniably a plus. I'm still poking around to see what's out there.

A little later . . .
I came up with a solution I think will work for me for housework. I'm using a combination of Diddlebug, Redo with the Todo list, and Datebk5. For chores for which I want to record completion dates in the calendar, I use db5 floating and repeating events. I like that I have the choice of scheduling a chore for the same day every week, or a certain amount of time after I actually complete it and mark it as complete. I use Redo with the Todo list to add chores to the Todo list that I like to be reminded of and be able to check them off when they're done,but that don't need to be stored in the calendar. Redo adds items to the list on the day that they're due. I use Diddlebug for popup reminders that I neither check off nor store in the calendar. My What's for Dinner reminder is a repeating reminder in Diddlebug. I also like Diddlebug as a timer for chores or whatever.
I'm still looking for a menu planning solution. A db5 solution would be fine. I know that some people don't like to clutter up their calendar, but I think it works better for me to have everything in one place. If I figure out filters and whatever other features, I can probably have views that focus what's listed. I wish I could find a version of the db5 manual that I could put on my PDA.

More than time slots I need categories for each day --say for chores, meals, and appointments. With my kids being 1 and 3 we rarely have more than 1 or 2 appointments in a day.

The other big feature that I could use is the ability to store lists and add them to the calendar at will. I could store chore lists, clients who may need work done, and menus in this way. I'm going to look into using the db5 and address integration this way, but it seems a shame to clutter up my address book with other types of entries. I may end up using handyshopper for menu planning. It is a good app to hold lists of things that may or may not be needed right now. Too bad it doesn't integrate with db.